Now Life Gets Hectic – Ron’s version!
16 April 2015 | Boatyard Opua New Zealand
OK! It's now early April. A few days ago I drove down to Auckland to pickup Nancy returning from the US. She was wiped out by her 48-hour trip back and has been slowly recovering from her URI for the last few days. We haul out soon. Just discovered that I wasn't charging our 15-month -old batteries and that they appear sulfated. With further investigation they are ruined! We will need to replace them and will do that in the boatyard as they each weight 160 pounds and are hard to move around.
We are now in the boatyard. We have lots to do. Our first surprise was that I discovered that our feathering propeller, the max prop, has been damaged by galvanic corrosion. When two dissimilar metals are submerged in salt water they communicate with each other and exchange electrons essentially creating a battery. Normally, zinc sacrificial anodes, connected electrically to the bronze metal should protect the integrity of the propeller but for some reason our zinc was eaten away and the bronze started disappearing. This could come from a stray current in the water from us or from another boat. It could represent a failure of electrical contact of the zinc or the zinc could have aged out and protection from it lost. It was so bad that it wasn't clear if the propeller could be safely used again. I had to disassemble the propeller and send the blades off to a propeller shop for advice and service. The interior mechanism was not damaged but there was severe pitting of the blades and hub with red copper exposed. The good news was that the propeller itself was still strong. It still "pinged" when hit by a hammer indicating it's integrity. I was advised to fill in the pits in the metal with viscous epoxy cement and then sand it down smooth to the metal leaving the epoxy in the recesses.
While Nancy focused on the bottom painting I needed to deal with the batteries. Replacing them was not to hard on land but the problem is that Always Saturday is an electrical hog and that the capacity of these batteries were designed too small in an age where electrical needs were slight. Unfortunately there is no extra space available to add a third battery which would be the ideal option. Instead the next best solution if we were not to ruin another set of expensive batteries was to install solar panels that would serve to fully charge the batteries after the generator supplied the bulk of the power. The solar panel installation turned out to be a bigger job than I had anticipated but I had access to expert advice and was able to power through the work to a very satisfactory conclusion. On a sunny day we can now generate about 15 amps. It's ironic that after all these years I finally went solar. When the boat was being designed for our blue water trip solar was still very expensive and unreliable. That was 20-25 years ago. Now it is amazingly cheap and durable. I'll include a picture of my masterpiece. So in a week's time, Nancy painted the bottom with several coats of antifouling paint, I changed the batteries, installed the solar panels and repaired and replaced the max prop and serviced the through hulls. Needless-to-say we were excited to get back into the water where life would be much easier. No pee bucket, no sleeping in a tree and freezing and all the hot water we needed to shower on board!
Next item then became provisioning and cooking. I'll defer to Nancy for these projects.
The weather window popped up unexpectedly early and since we were ready we grabbed the first opportunity to leave New Zealand. It was a boisterous passage with lot's of wind seas and some rain but we had a favorable point of sail and made the passage in just under 6 days averaging about 150 miles or more per day. We are now tucked in waiting for the inclement weather before we sail on to Noumea.
From the Crew of Always Saturday